KEVIN Rudd’s Labor has swept aside 11 years of Coalition rule, destroying John Howard’s hopes for a record fifth term and consigning him to a humiliating exit from public life. Voters turned to Mr Rudd’s pitch of fresh leadership and new ideas over Mr Howard’s record of economic management and unprecedented years of growth under his government.
"I will be a prime minister for all Australians. It's time for a new page to be written in our nation's history."
He restated education, health, climate change and water, broadband infrastructure and a fair balance at work as his key tasks.
By 10.15pm John Howard had called the Labor leader to concede defeat as his own seat of Bennelong remained on a knife-edge.
The Prime Minister said he took full responsibility for the defeat and admitted he could well lose the seat of Bennelong he has held since first being elected to Parliament in 1974.
By 9.30pm Greens leader Bob Brown welcomed Mr Rudd as the new prime minister of Australia.
The Coalition campaign was dogged in its final days by scandal in the marginal New South Wales seat of Lindsay, with the Prime Minister left haplessly condemning an electoral stunt from his party involving fake Muslim pamphlets.
In his last pleas Mr Howard told the people if they changed government they would change the country. Voters seem to have taken him on his word, punishing him at the polls after unpopular reforms including Work Choices and six straight interest rate rises since winning the 2004 election with the promise of keeping them low.